Friday, December 14, 2018

Vintage postcard: A happy moment under the Christmas tree


Today's crinkled and worn vintage Christmas postcard features two children sitting next to a modest (and candle-adorned) Christmas tree with their gifts. There's a teddy bear, a wooden horse and a full-color book. It does not appear that they received Yars' Revenge or the Vincent Price Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture kit from their wish lists. Maybe next year.

It is not apparent what company manufactured this card, but it was printed in Germany.

It is postmarked December 18, 1912, in Flint, Michigan. It was mailed to Master Dave Morse, Corner of Page and North St., Flint, Michigan. The note says simply "A Merry Christmas From Mrs. Curtis."

Thursday, December 13, 2018

It's the most creepiest postcard of the Christmas season


I suppose this was better understood in its time, but here's a vintage Christmas postcard that clearly doesn't have the holly-jolly spirit. Under "A Happy Christmas," we have a boy dressed in red, standing on a stool and holding what appears to be some mistletoe. The shadow behind him doesn't seem possible, given the silhouette he should be casting. Should we just assume there are some demonic forces at play? Or perhaps a little mischievous magic from Krampus? Or maybe the little boy just read A Christmas Carol?

The postcard was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons and is from the "Christmas" Series, being No. 3621. It was chromographed in Saxony.

The card was mailed, but the postmark is too blurred to tell what year.

It was sent to Master George Wesley Parkson [?] in "The Weirs," New Hampshire, which is what the locals call Weirs Beach upon the southern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.

And I can't find a darn thing under that name, though, in Google searches. Maybe I'm reading the cursive writing wrong. Is it George Wesley Paulson? I guessed Parkson because I though the K and S were just naturally blending together with the cursive, but now I'm not sure of anything.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book cover and other goodies:
"Too Busy to Die"


  • Title: Too Busy to Die
  • Author: H.W. Roden (1895-1963)
  • Cover illustrator: It's signed "Hoffman," but I couldn't find anything further
  • Publisher: William Morrow and Company (Morrow Mystery)
  • Original price: $2
  • Publication date: 1944
  • Pages: 216
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Provenance: Eva and Bub [Bob?] Sheppard of Hanover, Pennsylvania (per bookplate below). Later shelved at The York Emporium.
  • Dust jacket blurb: "The little man who called himself Harold Rodkins was so inconspicuous against the splendor of the new office that Johnny Knight's first impulse was to tell him to get out. Two thousand smackers appeared in the nick of time, effectively killing the impulse."
  • First sentence: The man put the final flourishes to the sign on the glass door of my new office and we both stepped back to admire his handiwork.
  • Last sentence: Whereupon we both collapsed quietly on the floor alongside of Pat and Homer, and the four of us slept peacefully awaiting the arrival of the police.
  • Random sentence from middle: For a guy who was still in his pajamas and bathrobe, I'd had quite a morning.
  • Original Kirkus review: "Slicked down toughie involving Johnny Knight, Public Relations Counsel, and Sid Ames, private eye, on a case of murder in triplicate, blackmail, and thieves falling out over a packet of diamonds. Top tempo and some pretty fine lowdown lingo in the genre."
  • Commentary from elsewhere #1: On The Thrilling Detective Web Site, Kevin Burton Smith writes: "SID AMES is a rye-swilling New York City gumshoe with a distaste for the cops and a rather unusual occasional sidekick, public relations consultant JOHNNY KNIGHT, who 'knows all the angles and rarely misses a trick,' and might have served as the brains of the bunch — if only he had been any smarter than Sid. He wasn't. ... Sid (and Johnny) appeared in four novels in the 40's, all of which were eventually published by Dell — including a couple of Mapbacks with spectacular covers."
  • Commentary from elsewhere #2: On Mystery*File, Steve discusses the plot and writing in this excerpt from an extended review: "Knight feels obligated to find the man’s killer. This is one of those typically 1940s wacky type of screwloose capers, complete with a beautiful blonde, a pint-sized bombshell named Patricia Rodkins who is not only deeply involved in the case but who also goes completely gaga over Knight at first glance, reason unknown but Johnny does not mind. ... With the body found on page 189, however, there are no more jokes. Things get serious and quite a bit darker in tone, and in spite of the relative loony atmosphere at the beginning, you begin to wonder if the mystery could possibly have a well-explained, coherent ending. It doesn't."

But wait, there's more!

Here's the back cover of the dust jacket, which is filled with tiny illustrations and describes author Roden as follows: "President, American Home Foods, Inc., and Clapp's Baby Foods; Chairman of the Board of G. Washington Coffee Refining Company; and member of the Board of Directors of the Association of National Advertisers, the War Advertising Council, and the Grocery Manufacturers of America."



And here's the aforementioned bookplate, featuring mouse, book and candle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ephemera seen on Weis parking lot at 8:32 p.m. on 12/11/18

RPPC: "Christmas Greeting and all Good wishes for the Coming Year"


This real photo postcard features a church surrounded by snow, a picture of a distinguished gentleman and the cursive message "Christmas Greeting and all Good wishes for the Coming Year." Perhaps the man is the pastor of that church, wherever it is. There's no writing on the card and it was never mailed. It's a CYKO card that dates to between 1904 and sometime in the 1920s, according to Playle's. A Google reverse image search turned up no additional leads.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about this one. If you have a hankering for more Christmas ephemera, start here.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Reader mystery: Vintage postcards with metal frames


A Papergreat reader named Molly has checked in with a postcard mystery for us to explore. Sending a batch of photos, she writes:
"My great-grandmother started my addiction to postcards when she bequeathed to me her small collection. Over 1,000 cards later, with a cutoff year of 1910, I am still buggered by 23 metal framed, 3" x 4" postcards. The paper part is also thicker than the regular postcards of that era. Most include a foldout easel on the back. ... I can't seem to find any like them anywhere ... nor any info about them. Obviously they are rare, indeed. Any internet links you may have to help me would be appreciated."
As you can see from one of Molly's images, these directions appear on the back of her cards: "Pull out the easel back or wall hanger with the point of a knife." With a little Google luck, I discovered that the Simplicity Company of Chicago sold metal-framed postcards in the first decade of the 20th century. But they might not have been the only company doing so.

Regarding Simplicity, this news item appears in the March 23, 1907, issue of The American Stationer, a trade magazine:

Notice to Post Card Dealers
The Simplicity Company, Chicago, is sending the following notice to the trade:

"A recent article published by newspapers throughout the country, in relation to a ruling made by the Postmaster General, wherein it declares that metal cards are not longer mailable unless sent in an enevlope [sic], might possibly lead dealers to a wrong conclusion as to our metal frame post cards, we herewith call your attention to a copy of a ruling made us by the Hon. Fred A. Busse, postmaster at Chicago, and dated March 8, 1907, several days after the publication of the article referred to above, and which reads as follows:
The Simplicity Company,
307-321 Dearborn Street,
Chicago, Illinois.
Sirs:—
Yours of the 7th March (F.J.W.) received. Metal bordered cards like sample submitted are mailable at the fourth-class rate of postage, i.e., 1 cent for each ounce or fraction thereof, when the message thereon is entirely in print. If, however, the message is wholly or partially in writing the cards referrred to will be subject to postage at the fire-class [sic] rate, i.e., 2 cents for each ounce or fraction thereof.
Respectfully,
Fred A. Busse, Postmaster.
The above is an exact copy of the postmaster's letter to us."
So it appears that at least one company might have encountered some early difficulty with the marketing and mailing of metal-framed postcards, which might have contributed to their rarity. According to Metropostcard.com, The Simplicity Company was in business from 1906 to 1927 and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, around 1909 after getting its start in Chicago. But Metropostcard makes no mention of metal frames.

Here are some more images that Molly sent along. If anyone else has any more information or leads on this mystery, let us know!




"Happy Christmas" postcard from Rotophot


This cheery old Christmas postcard was published by Rotophot, which can be identified by the tiny initials RPH inside a circle in the lower-left corner of the card. According to rosspostcards.com, "Rotophot began in Berlin, Germany, around the turn of the century (1900) and had other offices throughout Europe, including London and Budapest. They published many different postcard topics, such as women, children, lovers, holiday greetings, etc. Many of these postcards were tinted." The company later evolved into Ross Verlag, which published high quality — and highly collectable — postcards of movie stars and movie scenes from the 1920s through 1940s. Most of the company's records were lost or destroyed during World War II, so websites such as rosspostcards.com are a boon for postcard collectors.

This Christmas postcard was sent to Miss C. Kiesling at 2211 North 6th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I found a Leonard Charles Kiesling, who lived at 2211 North Sixth Street in Philadelphia and was a member of the Class of 1900 at the University of Pennsylvania. He died suddenly (accidental drowning) in 1904, at age 24. His parents were Henry Kiesling (1843-1887) and Anna Marie Kiesling (1948-1903), who were both dead before his tragic accident. No other siblings were listed in the records I found.

So it's still not clear who "Miss C. Kiesling" is.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Update: Man reading book is
Odd Fellow, not necromancer



We have a quick answer to yesterday's Mystery of the Eyeball Pillow on a vintage Christmas postcard, thanks to some super sleuthing by Wendyvee of RoadsideWonders.net. She says the pillow reminded her of some of the old memorabilia she's seen for the Odd Fellows (or Oddfellows), a fraternal order that dates to at least 1730 and, in present day and in its own words, aims "to improve and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane; to extend sympathy and aid to those in need, making their burdens lighter, relieving the darkness of despair; to war against vice in every form, and to be a great moral power and influence for the good of humanity." Maybe I should look into joining!

One of the Odd Fellows' symbols is the triple links. The English motto of "Friendship, Love and Truth" is often placed in the rings with the letters F, L and T. And you can see this is the case at the bottom of the Eyeball Pillow.


Here are a couple images of old Odd Fellows items, from Internet searches, that help to confirm this solution.



There is an Odd Fellows building in the historic district of Strasburg, Lancaster County, that dates to 1856. LancasterOnline's Jen Kopf wrote about it in 2015, at which point the lodge had about 50 members.